Dan Feldman

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Gordon Hayward: Jazz’s handling of my previous contract lingered for a little bit

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The Jazz didn’t give Gordon Hayward a rookie-scale contract extension. They didn’t give him a contract in restricted free agency.

They told him to go get an offer sheet – and Hayward did, a four-year max deal with a player option from the Hornets. Utah matched, and Hayward returned.

He blossomed into a star and, when he became an unrestricted free agent three years later, left for the Celtics.

Did the Jazz’s handling of his previous contract negotiation bother him?

Hayward on The Woj Pod:

It lingered for maybe a little bit of time at the beginning of when I signed it. There was none of those feelings were there this time around.

Restricted free agency, it’s a little weird.

As a player, you’re sitting there thinking like, “What the hell?” You look at all these other players where teams are like, “He’s our guy.” Like, “We’re going to give him the max.” Blah, blah, blah. And I’ve got to go out and get one? Like, “Do you not believe in me?” Like, “Do you not feel like I’m the guy for you?”

From a team’s perspective, it’s the smartest thing to do. Like, “Why would we overpay you until somebody else makes us, essentially?” You know what I mean?

So, I can for sure see it from both sides. But restricted free agency is weird.

Even if Hayward were completely over Utah’s approach, it still contributed to him leaving.

Offer sheets can be for up to just four years, and Hayward got one with a player option. The Jazz could have signed him directly to a contract that would have kept him in Utah for five years, four if he insisted on a player option.

As the salary cap and Hayward’s production both swelled, he would have been a bargain. And as a free agent in 2018 or 2019, he would have been less likely to find a team as appealing as Boston with max cap space. He would have been more likely to re-sign with the Jazz, who would have had more time to show what a team led by him and Rudy Gobert could accomplish.

Maybe Utah should have seen Hayward’s ascent coming. All teams should have probably done a better job anticipating the effect of the new national TV contracts on the league’s landscape.

To a degree, this is hindsight bias, but the Jazz clearly erred three years ago. They paid the price this summer.

Report: Lakers signing D-League MVP Vander Blue to partially guaranteed contract

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Winning D-League MVP hasn’t exactly foretold NBA success. The full list:

  • Vander Blue
  • Jarnell Stokes
  • Tim Frazier
  • Ron Howard
  • Othyus Jeffers
  • Andrew Goudelock
  • Justin Dentmon
  • Curtis Stinson
  • Mike Harris
  • Courtney Sims
  • Kasib Powell
  • Randy Livingston
  • Marcus Fizer
  • Matt Carroll
  • Tierre Brown
  • Devin Brown
  • Ansu Sesay

Devin Brown and Matt Carroll are probably the high points.

The Lakers hope Vander Blue will follow in their footsteps.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Chris Reichert of 2 Ways & 10 Days:

https://twitter.com/Chris_Reichert/status/891350419347087362

Blue will be the Lakers’ 15th player on a standard contract, the regular-season maximum. They could always sign additional players to battle for that final regular-season roster spot – especially with Blue having such a small guarantee. That looks like an enticement to stay with the Lakers’ minor-league affiliate rather than take a higher-paying job overseas.

The Lakers’ shooting-guard depth won’t help Blue’s chances of sticking. They already have Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Jordan Clarkson and Josh Hart. The Lakers might prefer to use that final spot on a third point guard to join Lonzo Ball and Tyler Ennis, though Clarkson can swing to the position.

The 25-year-old Blue is a fringe NBA player who has spent time with the Lakers and Celtics. He’s a good ball-handler who draws plenty of fouls, and he’s a fine jump-shooter. His non-scoring skills still need work.

It would be unsurprising to see him stick into the regular season or re-join the D-Fenders.

Tracy McGrady: ‘Anybody can win a championship. Everybody can’t get in the Hall of Fame’

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Tracy McGrady will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

In his prime, with the Magic and Rockets, McGrady absolutely looked like a Hall of Famer. He was a dynamic scorer who could shoot 3-pointers and attack the rim, and he added plenty of complementary skills.

His case is hindered by two points: He lacked productive longevity, a 15-year career bookended by uneven play as a teenager with the Raptors and injury-limited performances with the Knicks, Pistons and Hawks in later years. And he never won a title.

McGrady, via Tom Westerholm of MassLive:

“Social media can give a lot of people voices these days, and the first thing they say is ‘No rings, no rings,'” McGrady said on Friday, in an appearance at the Hall of Fame’s 60 Days of Summer Program. “You have to have a great team and some luck to get a ring, right? Unfortunately, I wasn’t blessed with that. But I go back at them with this: Anybody can win a championship. Everybody can’t get in the Hall of Fame.”

McGrady is right. Darko Milicic, Adam Morrison, Eddy Curry and numerous lesser forgotten players have won championships. A ring devoid of context is a lesser individual accomplishment than Hall of Fame enshrinement.

But it’s not just that McGrady never won a title.

He didn’t win a single playoff series until he was playing spot minutes for the Spurs in his final season – and the Hall of Fame essentially said that didn’t count. Though McGrady still frequently posted quality individual production in the postseason and his teammates often left plenty to be desired, that lack of team success raises legitimate questions. Was McGrady mentally tough enough? Was he a good leader? Did he elevate his teammates? Could he still excel when defenses clamped down? Did he do enough things that don’t show up in the box score to contribute to winning?

I’m not so concerned about McGrady never winning a title. We should do a better job of separating individual success from team success, and too much of winning a championship escapes a player’s control.

But winning a single playoff-series victory as a rotation player? That’s a far lower bar, and McGrady’s failure to do so is more of a red flag.

Gordon Hayward: Going from Western Conference to Eastern Conference ‘probably the smarter thing’

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The top three and 10 of the top 16 teams in our power rankings are in the Western Conference.

Four All-Stars changed conferences this offseason. Jimmy Butler, Paul George and Paul Millsap all went East to West. (Carmelo Anthony could follow.)

Gordon Hayward – who left the Jazz for the Celtics – went the other way.

Hayward on The Woj Pod:

When we’re going through this process, and you keep seeing some of the big-name guys, and it’s like the West is loading up more and more and more. It’s not like I’m going to go East just so I don’t have to play them. Because you don’t want to run from competition at all. That’s not how I am.

But there is a sense that it’s probably the smarter thing, as far as you’re not going to have to battle it out with all these teams just to make it to the second round, make it to the third, giving yourself a better chance against a Golden State.

So, it definitely crosses your mind. Hundred percent.

The All-Star thing, it’s going to be hard no matter what division you’re in, but certainly with the amount of stars that are in the Western Conference now, especially at the forward position, too. It’s loaded, and you better have a really good first half of the season if you want to get in. And a lot of that, to me, always comes down to how your team does. If your team is winning, then it’s going to be a lot easier for you.

So, like I said, that for sure crosses your mind.

I don’t think Hayward wanted to run from competition, and he probably didn’t view it that way.

But it’s also what he did.

He’ll have an easier time making the All-Star game in the East. Six to eight Eastern Conference frontcourt players will make it. Other candidates: LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Kristaps Porzingis, Hassan Whiteside, Andre Drummond, Al Horford, Anthony and…? Hayward should crack through.

Boston will also have an easier path for playoff advancement. The Cavaliers, Wizards and Raptors are also formidable, but the Celtics made the conference finals without Hayward last year. They’ll be even better with him.

It’s hard to argue with Hayward’s contention that signing in the East is the smarter thing. The sooner other stars agree with him, the soon the conference imbalance will be fixed.

Report: James Harden and Chris Paul teaming up against Russell Westbrook in Drew League

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The Rockets assembled a backcourt with historic talent and basketball intelligence, but one also threatened to become undone by a single question: Will James Harden and Chris Paul, both used to dominating the ball, fit together?

We’ll get a sneak peak tomorrow – against Russell Westbrook.

Marc J. Spears of ESPN:

NBA All-Star guard James Harden and backcourt newcomer Chris Paul are expected to team up Sunday for LA Unified in the Drew League in Los Angeles, a source told The Undefeated. This marks the first time the two will play together since Paul was acquired by the Houston Rockets.

The matchup at the famed Pro-Am is even more intriguing due to the fact that LA Unified plays Home Town Favorites, which is expected to star 2017 NBA Most Valuable Player Russell Westbrook, a source said.

I’m even more intrigued by Westbrook’s participation than the Houston guards.

Few would play with a projected $207 million extension on the table, but not finalized. Why is Westbrook?

Is he just more willing than most to risk injury while a deal is still pending? Does he believe the Thunder would still pay him even if he suffered a catastrophic injury?

Or, most intriguingly, does this signal Westbrook plans to pass on the extension?

He could make the same amount in free agency next summer. Unlike last year’s renegotiation-and-extension, which put more money in his pocket than any other route, there’s not necessarily a financial advantage this time. The only advantage is guaranteeing the super-max salary now just in case something goes wrong in the next year.

But, by playing in this game, Westbrook is showing what he thinks of security.